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The New Arab Staff

US confirms planned troop withdrawal from Iraq

More US troops will leave Iraq [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 September, 2020

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The US is planning scaling down its military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Washington formally announced a troop withdrawal from Iraq Wednesday evening, which will see the US military presence in the country cut by almost half.

Marine General Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, announced during a visit to Iraq that the country's troop numbers there would be reduced from 5,000 to 3,000, according to Reuters.

It comes after a report by the news agency last month stating that the US was planning to reduce its military presence in Iraq by around a third.

"We are continuing to expand on our partner capacity programmes that enable Iraqi forces and allow us to reduce our footprint in Iraq," McKenzie said, according to Reuters.

US troops were sent to the country in 2014 at the request of the Iraqi government after the Islamic State group took over the north and pushed towards Baghdad.

The US task force played a key role in the defeat of IS in Iraq and Syria, but tensions soon heightened after attacks on American troops by Iran-backed militias and the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.

This led the Iraqi parliament to vote in January for the withdrawal of all American troops from the country.

President Donald Trump has favoured a scaling back of the US military presence overseas and called for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

McKenzie welcomed the "great progress" made by Iraqi forces in containing an IS insurgency who are now able to "operate independently".

"This reduced footprint allows us to continue advising and assisting our Iraqi partners in rooting out the final remnants of ISIS in Iraq and ensuring its enduring defeat," he said, according to Politico.

The US invaded Iraq in 2003, overthrowing the Baath regime but plunging the country into civil war.

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